Remember the days in elementary school where we went door-to-door to our neighbors and asked them to buy cookies or wreaths or flowers to support some program we were a part of? Like many children, asking strangers for money was not a highlight of my youth. Many of us conscripted our parents by sending the order sheet to their offices.
I’ve realized my nonprofit peers are equating their development strategy to the days of the elementary school fundraiser. They’re not even asking people to buy a product, but to simply to give up their money. This beggar’s attitude means few have a desire to go into fundraising.
But fundraising is about so much more than asking for money!
Face-to-face meetings are only a fraction of fundraiser’s job. Relationship-building and storytelling are key. When done well, these make for an easy ask.
After identifying a donor, fundraisers build relationships by asking personable questions and by showing the donor the exciting work the organization does. When your organization’s work is also your passion, fundraising lets you share that excitement with others… as your job. You also get to learn more about other people. Why are they excited in your work? What personal connection do they have to the mission? Donors have fascinating stories and you should want to hear them.
Making an ask is necessary – as a fundraiser’s job is to raise funds. However, by the time you ask, people often want to give. You become interested in them, and you have appealed to their emotions by explaining your work. This does not mean you will always bring in a donation, but cultivation builds the groundwork for the ask to be more natural.
From there, you move right back to focussing on that relationship. Keeping the donor engaged by continuously notifying them of your accomplishments gives you reasons to follow up, sending notes and stewarding the relationship you have built.
Bringing in money is the motivation behind my fundraising work, but I do not see it as my sole job. I love fundraising because it allows me to share my passion with others. Fundraisers introduce donors to your mission and foster the relationship through sharing and learning. Solicitation rides alongside this relationship building. Solicitation is not the only task in fundraising. You should spend more resources building relationships than soliciting.
Want to discuss how to better cultivate your donor relationships? Let us know! Evelyn@SparkFreedom.org